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Who sang it better? Super Mario Odyssey's theme in English, Japanese, and Chinese

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Jump with me, pick fights with me

Could it be that the Japanese version of the Super Mario Odyssey theme, "Jump Up Super Star" is the inferior version? Music nerds, lend me your bruised wood-worn appendages.  

Not to karaoke-shame anyone, but IMHO the Broadway musical-themed ensemble feels most fluid in English as nature intended. The real props, however, go to the random Chinese person that decided to localize it with their own fresh lyrical stylings. 

Who sang it better? Listen to all three in the videos below and you be the judge. 

 

The American version

If you think the Japanese recording came second ... it depends what you mean. In an interview with GameInformer, singer Kate Higgins said she received a version of the song performed by a Japanese vocalist that she used for reference. That version is not available to the public, or at least I couldn't find it anywhere. Kate's version blew up on iTunes, and is curing cancer on iTunes with 191 reviews and a 4.9 ranking. Not bad.

The original version was written by Nobuyoshi Suzuki, but its unclear if his shower thoughts were first in English or Japanese. You'd be surprised how many Japanese people magically know a lot of English but due to a glitch in their schooling become too shy to use it, which brings me to why the Japanese version sounds a little off. 

The Nihongo version

To each his own ... but ugh. It's by no fault of the talented vocalist, Aimi Mukohara. For one, it's a western-sounding song with Japanese lyrics. The dissonance hurts my brain. But what really kills it for me are borrowed English words, known as gairaigo. 

Listen closely and you'll hear stuff like "hai-jum-py-shi-tte" (do a high jump). Is that cute? Oh yeah, super cute. But when you're trying to learn Japanese that's like finding a spoonful of week-old meatloaf in your parent-and-child-cooked-together-bowl

Anyway, it's no Katamari Mambo, which despite having a foreign foundation is unforgivingly Japanese and sounds cohesive, without the kurappy katakana kyutunessu*. 

*Side rant: In Japanese, borrowed words aren't taught to be pronounced in their native tongue (as opposed to butchering French dishes in broken sounds). The Japanese language has a very limited set of total sounds, so some dude figured that making it sound kind of Japanese was the better idea.  It's the worst idea, ever. This sets up unsuspecting Japanese people to mispronounce words they believe to already know confidently in English. Over time these words then take on different meanings. I had a person tell me they had "high tension" as if I should call an ambulance, but this meant they were very happy. Eeeeee? This is what's colloquially known as "Katakana English", the bane of foreign language students and teachers on both ends.  How frustrating! There's a small but vocal movement to purge this nonsense as well as kanji altogether, but don't hold your breath. You know, unless your emperor says this is insane and forces everyone to switch to his easy sticks and circles. Try not to feel depressed that PPAP, Japan's #1 musical export of all time, is entirely in English and popularized by a Canadian Ash Ketchum.

That said, China is the clear victor in this musical odyssey

OK, he's no Kate Higgins but he's got bigger balls than me for putting this out there. Yet, not by nearly as much as Korean Mariah Carey. You go, boys.

If you find additional covers, good or bad, drop them in the comments below.


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Papa Niero
Papa NieroMeat Vessel   gamer profile

I've been writing about video games on Destructoid for almost 12 years. It would be insane to stop now. I do a lot of stuff behind the scenes here, but mostly my job is to keep Destructoid wei... more + disclosures


 



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